The Ultimate Los Angeles Stopover GuideLos Angeles, California. It’s home to the glitz and glam of Hollywood, a short drive from Disneyland and the location of the largest international airport on the west coast of the United States. With 69% of flights from Australia to the US mainland arriving at Los Angeles International Airport, there’s a good chance you’ll be flying through LA on your next trip to the USA.

There’s plenty of information on the internet about things to do in Los Angeles. But what should you do if you’re stopping over for just a day or a few hours? This AFF guide will help you to make the most of your Los Angeles stopover!

Where to stay near Los Angeles Airport

If you’re looking for a good hotel near LAX International Airport, there are many options. babysun recommends Homewood Suites. 

I’ve stayed at the Hilton and Homewood Suites. Value wise Homewood wins. Free breakfast and massive rooms with kitchenettes and it cost less. Free shuttles run continuously to and from the airport. If you want better views of the runways from the roof deck and rooms on higher floors the Hilton is the one for you. There is bugger all to do near there without walking at least 15 minutes to the shops and there are no local restaurants within a short walk. There is subway and cafe downstairs in addition the hotel restaurant.

Another AFF member, cove, recommends Embassy Suites North or Marriott West Century.

We would always break the journey by staying at Embassy Suites North or Marriott West Century and if the arrival was too early I would go to their pool to get the kinks out of my body from the long haul flight.

Also, one final piece of advice from babysun

Traffic is appalling so keep that in mind when you choose what to do.

What to do near Los Angeles Airport

There’s plenty to see during your Los Angeles stopover; Universal Studios, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Santa Monica, Sunset Boulevard… and of course, Disneyland is nearby in Anaheim.

But what if your Los Angeles stopover is only a few hours? If you’re looking for something to do near LAX airport, a popular AFF spot is In-N-Out Burger. The Sepulveda Boulevard store is around 10 minutes by car or 30 minutes walking distance from the airport. There’s even a shuttle bus that can get you there. In-N-Out Burger has a bit of a cult following in the States and as well as serving great burgers, this particular store is in a prime location for plane spotting.

#1 on this list has got to be In-N-Out Burger – Los Angeles, CA, 9149 S. Sepulveda Blvd.. if only a few hours transit, wanting to leave the airport and not rent a car. Makes me hungry just thinking about it.

According to cove, In-N-Out Burger is not the only option if you’re hungry and craving some American food after your long-haul flight.

There are steakhouses in El Segundo and Marina del Rey that are worth visiting if you deplane hungry. Go to Flemings or Houston’s in El Segundo or Ruth’s Chris in Marina del Rey in the evening.

This thread by RooFlyer should also give you some ideas: The Illustrated “What to do with a X hour transit at LAX” thread

The best Los Angeles airport lounges

There are literally dozens of lounges at Los Angeles International Airport.

Business class passengers and Oneworld Sapphire (including Qantas Gold) frequent flyers flying on a Oneworld airline can use the Oneworld Los Angeles Lounge in Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT). This lounge is also available to Qantas Club members departing Los Angeles on a Qantas flight number, although Qantas Club lounge passes are not accepted. If you have Qantas Platinum (or Oneworld Emerald) status, or are flying in First Class, you can also use the Qantas First Lounge in Los Angeles.

Oneworld Los Angeles Lounge
Oneworld Los Angeles Lounge

Beware of the Qantas lounge tipping scam that crops up from time to time in Los Angeles. Qantas does not encourage guests to tip in its airport lounges, and staff are not permitted to ask for them.

Another reasonable option for Oneworld flyers is the American Airlines Flagship Lounge in Terminal 4. But even if your flight departs from Terminal 4, you can still use the TBIT Oneworld & Qantas lounges thanks to an airside connector bridge that opened in 2016.

If you’re flying on a Star Alliance Airline, such as Air New Zealand, the Star Alliance Lounge in TBIT is excellent and even features an outdoor terrace. United Business Class passengers departing on a long-haul international flight can also access the wonderful United Polaris lounge in Terminal 7.

Star Alliance Lounge, Los Angeles
Star Alliance Lounge, Los Angeles

Virgin Australia Business guests, as well as Platinum and Gold Velocity members, have access to the excellent Emirates Lounge – unless you’re on flight VA6 to Brisbane, in which case you’ll be relegated to the airport-operated Los Angeles International Lounge.

If you’re flying to Sydney on Delta, you’ll have access to the Delta Sky Club in Terminal 2. This is not the most exciting lounge at LAX…

Connecting in Los Angeles to/from New York on QF11/12

Flying to New York with Qantas? Flight QF11 from Sydney to New York has a stop in Los Angles, where you’ll need to change planes. Even though you’re travelling onwards to New York, you’ll also be required to clear US immigration and customs formalities in Los Angeles. This means you’ll need to collect your luggage in Los Angeles and re-check it after clearing customs, as is standard when entering the United States – even if you’re in transit to another international destination outside of the USA. There are Qantas ground staff available to help you during your transit.

There are no such formalities when returning from New York to Sydney via Los Angeles on QF12. But you do still have to change planes during the Los Angeles stopover, as the Dreamliner operating from New York to Los Angeles continues to Brisbane. Simply head over to the gate (or the lounge) and wait for your onward aircraft to board.

The trip from Australia to New York is a very long one. If you would rather break up the trip, it is possible to stop over in Los Angeles and continue to New York on QF11 a day or two (or even a week) later. When flying Qantas from Los Angeles to New York on QF11, you can check in from 6am on the morning of departure. The check-in queue won’t be long as most passengers on the aircraft are connecting straight through from Australia.

See this AFF thread for more information about the transit in Los Angeles: QF12 arrival and departure in LAX

Ensure that you have a valid ESTA or visa before travelling

The United States government requires all passengers to have a valid visa or visa waiver known as an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) when travelling to the USA. Most Australians are eligible for an ESTA. This can be applied for online for a small fee and is valid for up to two years or until your current passport expires. Do note that you must now apply for an ESTA at least 72 hours before travelling.


Do you have a great Los Angeles stopover tip to share? Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Los Angeles (LAX) Stopover Tips


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]